Sheldon Silver once again dominated the headlines over the weekend. Here’s the latest.
On Friday, the Daily News reported that he filed his resignation letter with the Assembly clerk. It takes effect at 11:59 tonight. Silver officially steps down from the leadership post just eight days after being arrested on federal corruption charges. He plans to hold on to his seat in the 65th Assembly District, which includes the Lower East Side.
The Post suggested that Silver needs to keep the seat for the time being. “If he resigned now, that would be an implicit admission of wrongdoing, something he denies and, besides, can’t afford to make,’’ a senior Assembly staff member tells columnist Fred Dicker. There’s speculation that he will step down if acquitted of the charges. If Silver is found guilty at trial, he’d be automatically removed from the Assembly.
On Saturday, the tabloid reported that federal prosecutors are investigating “Silver’s influence” over the civil branch of the state Supreme Court in Manhattan:
The case against Silver centers on his freelance legal “work” and the millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks he hauled in from real-estate and asbestos claims, the feds say. Many of these cases landed in the courtrooms at 60 Centre St., presided over by judges with ties to Silver and his lifelong pal, Jonathan Lippman, the chief judge of the state Court of Appeals. Both men grew up on the Lower East Side, and Silver has been Lippman’s political godfather, pushing him to reach New York’s top judicial post.
The Post also noted that two prominent Lower East Side property owners are represented by Goldberg & Iryami, a law firm entangled in the federal case against Silver:
Mark Miller and Sion Misrahi are… being represented by the law firm that allegedly funneled at least $700,000 to Silver in illegal kickbacks in a long-running corruption scheme, records show. The judge presiding over their assessment challenges, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Martin Shulman, is a lifelong pal of Silver. He and Silver live in the same Grand Street building and pray at the same nearby synagogue. “They’re friends who grew up together. Shelly pushed Shulman through to be a Supreme Court judge,” a judicial insider said.
Misrahi has been one of the biggest land owners and developers on the Lower East Side for many years. Miller is the former president of the LES Business Improvement District. There was no indication in the complaint filed by the U.S. attorney that any Lower East Side-based property owners were part of the alleged scheme to funnel money to Silver. The BID is one of many neighborhood groups that have received state grants from Silver.
Wayne Barrett, the former Village Voice muckraker, connected the dots between Silver and some of his Grand Street cohorts:
The universe he truly cares about covers a few blocks on the Lower East Side, where he was born and still lives, and where a mountain of ambitions was hidden on a tiny stretch of Grand Street. Even as he ruled a vast state, it was always Grand Street that was his capital. And it was the clan he met there whose code he embodies. The federal complaint tells one narrative from that tightly entangled life It introduces a circle of lifelong Silver connections that engulf and explain him, an extended family with him always at the head of the table.
The Jewish Daily Forward profiles Judy Rapfogel, Silver’s longtime chief of staff. She’s also married to William Rapfogel, the former Met Council head who’s serving a prison term for accepting kickbacks. Here’s an excerpt:
Judy Rapfogel, whose office did not respond to a request for comment for this article, has not been implicated in either scandal. Yet she now finds herself at the center of both of them. Together they have brought down the Lower East Side’s long reign as a locus of political clout, and have blown up Judy Rapfogel’s own life… The Silver and Rapfogel scandals are deeply intertwined: Both men are lifelong friends and political allies who grew up together on the Lower East Side. Countless political favors passed between them. Yet no connection is more obvious than Judy Rapfogel herself, Silver’s most senior aide and the third leg of the powerful political triumvirate.
Tendering my resignation as Fake Assembly Speaker as of 11:59pm tonight. Official statement: http://t.co/VNbAfYXhY7
— Fake Sheldon Silver (@ShellySilver) February 2, 2015
As the real Shelly prepares to step down as speaker, the anonymous “Fake Sheldon Silver,” has unmasked himself. In the New Yorker, Ben McGrath explains:
Several hours after the news broke, last Tuesday night, that Sheldon Silver would be relinquishing his post as the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, an e-mail arrived in these offices from someone calling himself Fake Sheldon Silver. “We’ve made a determination that it would be acceptable to meet with you at this time,” the note read. Its author proposed a meal at Zafis Luncheonette, on Grand Street, down the block from the real Silver’s apartment. Fake Sheldon Silver is a parodist, tweeting the ostensible musings (@ShellySilver) of the tight-lipped politician as a running critique of Albany obfuscation and graft… Silver’s recent arrest, on corruption charges involving millions of dollars funnelled through his side gig as a personal-injury lawyer, seemed to spell the end not only of a two-decade-long career in power brokering but also of an extended piece of political performance art… The man who showed up at Zafis (was) … Aaron Naparstek, and he is best known as a progressive transportation advocate—the founder of the influential Streetsblog. It was the Democratic Assembly’s stonewalling on congestion pricing, in 2008, that first drew his attention upstate… He helped found a nonprofit called Reinvent Albany, which led to his being seated, at a public forum in 2010, within feet of Speaker Silver, whom he now calls “a walking human filibuster.”
I feel for him. In a weird, sick way, I do… I really never thought he would be of the walking-out-in-handcuffs variety. I had this notion that Shelly’s last tweets would be from the afterlife.